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Sonia's advice to PM on national policy for domestic workers

delhi Updated: May 19, 2011 15:36 IST

NAC Chairperson Sonia Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh advising that the proposed national policy for domestic workers should ensure remuneration without sex discrimination and protection against sexual harassment at work place to the target group.

The National Advisory Council had made the recommendations on the national policy at its meeting on April 28. Sources said that Gandhi wrote to the Prime Minister about NAC recommendations soon after the meeting following which, the PMO wrote to the Labour Ministry to take the move forward.

Labour Secretary P Chaturvedi said, "The letter had come to use from the PMO ten days back. We have adopted a two-pronged strategy. One is welfare of domestic workers under the various social security schemes and the other is preparing the guidelines for the policy for domestic workers."

Sources said the Labour Ministry has already sent a Cabinet note for inclusion of domestic workers under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana.

They said a task force was earlier constituted to suggest measures for the welfare of such workers.

"A number of measures have been initiated to bring the domestic workers under the social security net," sources in the Labour Ministry said.

Noting that the Government was engaged in the exercise of formulating a National Policy for Domestic Workers, the NAC had made a number of recommendations with regard to 'essential elements' of such a policy.

The NAC in its communication to the government had said that the policy should affirm the equity of domestic workers with other wage workers, so that domestic workers are treated no less favourably.

The NAC had recommended that the national policy should have measures to ensure protection to domestic workers against sexual harassment at the place of work and protection against forced labour or trafficking, by regulation and registration of recruitment agencies as well as right to remuneration without discrimination based on sex.

The NAC wanted the policy to have a "larger labour rights framework", where the state shall take effective measures to include domestic workers in the existing labour legislations.

"And where such inclusion is not possible, or where such inclusion would not amount to equivalent rights for Domestic Workers, due to the specific nature of their work, the national policy shall place on the central government the obligation to design additional legislative mechanisms to ensure that Domestic Workers rights as workers can be exercised comprehensively," it said.

It also felt that the policy should specify elements that comprise the comprehensive exercise of domestic workers 'rights as workers', including right to receive at least the minimum wages as applicable under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.